Monday, June 27, 2005

Israel Urges Harder Line Toward Iran After Poll

Israel called on Sunday for a harder international line toward Iran and its nuclear program in the wake of an ultra-conservative candidate's victory in the Iranian presidential election.

"Faced with the Iranian nuclear threat, the international community must, more than before, formulate a unified and stern policy toward Iran," Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said.

"We must ensure that modern Western countries do not become hostage to Iranian radicalism," he told reporters.

Israel, backed by the United States, accuses Iran of seeking nuclear bombs. Tehran says the purpose of its nuclear program is only to generate electricity.

Shalom repeated an Israeli call for the nuclear issue to be referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions against Iran.

He said Israel did not consider Friday's poll, won by Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to be "democratic elections by any means."

"Furthermore, the results prove once again that Iran is (moving) toward more radicalism and activism rather than toward reform and reconciliation," Shalom added. READ MORE

Israel said in May that it expected Iran to have the technological know-how within six to nine months to build nuclear bombs.

Israel, which does not allow international inspection of its Dimona atomic reactor, is believed to have more than 200 nuclear bombs.

Ahmadinejad, who defeated political heavyweight Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, has used firm language on Iran's controversial nuclear program, saying it was the nation's right to develop its nuclear technology.

His win is unlikely to lead to immediate changes in nuclear policy, as the final word on that and other matters of state lies with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.